Life is full of milestones. One of the most significant milestones is when you pass your driver’s license test. You can probably still remember the thrill of driving yourself to school for the very first time. While driving is exciting, it is also a huge responsibility to yourself, your family, and other drivers on the road.
While you can’t control what others do, here are four ways to help you be safer on the road and hopefully avoid an auto collision.
Avoid Distracted Driving
What is considered distracted driving? According to the CDC, distracted driving is anything that takes your attention off of driving.
There are three main categories of distracted driving.
Visual Distractions take your eyes off of the road.
One of the biggest visual distractions can be your phone. Drivers are distracted every day by texting, changing the music, or using navigation systems. Even glancing down at your phone for a brief second could result in a vehicle collision.
The first step to combatting visual distractions is to remove the temptation altogether.
Choose your music before you start driving so that you don’t have to look down to change the music. Turn on your navigation audio instead of looking at your phone for directions.
If it’s an emergency and you need to contact someone, call them using Bluetooth instead of texting them. Many vehicles now allow you to pair your phone to your car, so you can use vocal commands. If you plan on using vocal commands, make sure your phone is paired to your car before you start driving.
Manual distractions take your hands off of the steering wheel.
Your phone could also be a manual distraction. However, there are other forms of manual distractions like eating while driving, adjusting the radio, and reaching for something in your backseat.
Make sure you have everything you need before you drive. Eating while driving is considered dangerous because your focus is on something other than paying attention to your driving.
Cognitive distractions take your mind off of the road.
Cognitive distraction is a broad term that is not as straightforward as visual or manual distractions.
It incorporates your emotions and thoughts. Sometimes your mind wanders. Whether you’re cooling off after a disagreement or stressed about a meeting at work, it is all a cognitive distraction.
Strong emotions can cloud your judgment when you’re driving. When your mind is distracted, it also impacts your reaction time which could result in a collision.
If your mind is distracted, take a moment to collect your thoughts. Take a couple of deep breaths and clear your head before your drive.
The most important thing to remember is to focus on your driving. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Your commitment to your driving could save your life and those around you.
Stay alert on the road.
Staying alert goes along with omitting distractions while driving.
Some of the most dangerous drivers on the road are drowsy drivers.
The effects of drowsy driving are surprisingly similar to drunk driving. Drowsy driving can affect your reaction time, coordination, and judgment, just like drunk driving.
One of the best ways to avoid drowsy driving is to get enough sleep.If you find yourself drifting off while driving, pull over at a safe rest stop and take a break. If you see someone else drifting into the other lane, keep a safe distance away from the vehicle.
Another way to stay alert is to pay attention to road signs, crosswalks, and speed limits. All of these signs were implemented to keep you, cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles safe on the road.
It’s also wise to be aware of your surroundings. Regularly check your rearview and side-view mirror.
You should check your rearview mirror every 5 to 8 seconds. This will help you keep tabs on who is passing you and who might be in your blind spot. It will also help you notice potential dangerous drivers around you.
If you see others not following the rules of the road, be sure to keep your distance. Nothing is more dangerous than a reckless driver.
Practice defensive driving.
While you can control how you drive on the road, you can’t control those around you. That’s why defensive driving is important.
Defensive driving is when you use driving strategies that help you have quick reaction times and observe drivers around you. It helps you to identify possible hazards on the road and avoid them.
Just like staying alert on the road, scanning your surroundings and checking your mirrors is a great way to identify possible dangerous drivers.
To prevent any collisions, you should stay at least three seconds away from the vehicle in front of you. You can gauge a three-second distance by finding an inanimate object by the road and counting how long it takes you to pass it.
Another way to drive defensively is to pay attention to intersections and four-way stops. Being aware of vehicles speeding through yellow lights, other vehicles being stopped prior to your entering an intersection, whether it be a signaled intersection or a four-way stop, will help avoid a collision. Be sure to know the rules of right of way at a four-way stop.
When you cross railroad tracks, look both ways before crossing. You can’t always rely on railway crossings to alert you of a train coming. Drive slowly and with caution.
You might also want to consider signing up for a defensive driving course to further equip yourself with the tools and knowledge you need to drive safely.
Wear a Seatbelt
You’ve probably heard the common saying: seatbelts save lives.
Seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45% and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%. This is the case for drivers and passengers alike.
When you choose to have everyone in your vehicle wear a seatbelt, you’re not only following the law, but you are protecting yourself and the passengers in your car.
Wearing your seatbelt is one of the best and easiest ways to stay safe on the road and defend yourself from reckless drivers around you.
Maples, Nix, & Diesselhorst Stands with You
We hope you never need us, but if you or a loved one have suffered catastrophic or permanent personal injuries in a vehicle collision due to someone else’s negligence, our team is prepared to help you.
We have the knowledge, skills, and resources to successfully represent individuals and families throughout Oklahoma who have sustained serious injuries or death due to a vehicle collision.
When you partner with Maples, Nix, & Diesselhorst, you become a part of our family. Family fights alongside one another.
Call our dedicated team at (405) 478-3737 for a free consultation. We stand with you.